20 LGBTQIA+ artists giving the world a big middle finger right now
It’s an election year, the world is in the middle of a pandemic and the importance of fighting for the rights of underserved and marginalized people is bigger than ever. One thing we can be grateful for is punk rock. Be it in sound or spirit, punk is a driving force we need to keep us informed, energized, inspired and sometimes to just provide the kind of humor that keeps us sane. Here are 20 bands with some or all LGBTQIA+ members and allies who are providing sonic strength and support.
Laura Jane Grace
As far as creating anthemic rock ’n’ roll that’s charged with a punk ferocity, Laura Jane Grace is close to untouchable. She’s been making powerful music for more than two decades, starting as a teen doing grunge covers and eventually forming the acclaimed Against Me! in 1997. As bold as her music is, Grace came out in 2012 as a trans woman, sharing her journey with her usual honesty. Her latest endeavors are a surprise solo album, Stay Alive, under her name as well as the side project Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers.
Fuck U Pay Us
Calling the Los Angeles Afropunk band Fuck U Pay Us explosive is an exercise in truth-telling. It’s also an understatement. There’s no holds barred as this band mix punk riffs, droning melodies and elements of funk with raw and powerful vocals to dispatch songs such as “Nappy Black Pussy,” “Spiritual Warfare” and “Burn Ye Old White Male Patriarchy, Burn.”
Fatty Cakes And The Puff Pastries
Straight out of Fresno, this Northern California band are the glitter-adorned girl gang you want on your side. Channeling both the spirit and sounds of classic ’60s girl groups, complete with insanely catchy-meets-cool background vocals, this socially conscious crew have a blast while delivering music with a message. Their harmony-filled tunes such as “Fat Girl Tears” and “Antifa Cakes (Not My Puff Pastry)” dig into issues that are important to them, from mental health to body positivity. Fatty Cakes And The Puff Pastries so badass, punk legend Alice Bag produced their first full-length.
It would be hard to find a menstruation song quite as fun as Tacocat’s “Crimson Wave.” Not a surprise, though, as this indie pop-punk Seattle band have been using their collectively sharpened wit to craft songs with feminine and feminist themes for more than a decade. And they’re both having and providing a good time while doing it. It’s an honest look at human behavior by a group of friends who are letting us listen in on their ongoing party. Oh, and their name is a palindrome. What’s not neat about that?
These Louisville punks are led by trans musician Violet Archaea, and though every lyric doesn’t examine gender issues, the sheer force behind these rowdy tracks is reflective of the chaotic state of the world. Living in a conservative state like Kentucky surely has to add fuel to the fire. Incorporating elements of old and new punk, the Archaeas' self-titled debut on Goner Records sounds like what you’d get if Iggy Pop and Jay Reatard had a lovechild.
Singer Martin Sorrondeguy was tearing it up for years, melting faces in the hardcore band Los Crudos until they split up in ’98. Limp Wrist came on the heels of that band who broke ground as a Latino act in the predominately white world of hardcore. There was no desire with Limp Wrist to dial things back. In fact, the band who were built on a hardcore foundation cranked up the sonic brutality a few notches. Classic tracks include “I Love Hardcore Boys, I Love Boys Hardcore” and “Smear The Fear.”
Brooklyn is the birthplace of Worriers, founded in 2011 by vocalist/guitarist Lauren Denitzio. Their first full-length, Imaginary Life, was released in 2015 and was produced by Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! Worriers play thoughtfully crafted melodic pop that maintains a rolling tension that keeps it on the verge of an explosion at all times. This year’s You Or Someone You Know is full of sweet guitar melodies, but they never overpower the songwriting.
Milly Toomey is the force known as Girli, serving up electropop that sometimes blows a bubble of gum in your face. Other times, you’re getting hit with rap or punk sounds. The pansexual feminist doesn’t mince words, and if you don’t like what she’s about, you can do what her 2019 single suggests: “Deal With It.”
When Hüsker Dü broke up in the late ’80s, Bob Mould never slowed down. In 1992, he formed Sugar, whose album Copper Blue was a fan favorite that got lots of love from critics, too. Since 1989, he’s been creating solo records and just dropped Blue Hearts. On his latest, the state of the world is on his mind. The opening track “Heart On My Sleeve” explores climate change, while “American Crisis” is raw and raucous, completely showcasing Mould’s blistering punk roots.
Shika Corona started Tingtongketz in 2015 and has filled its slots with a rotating crew of trans and queer musicians. For Corona, making music in Malaysia, a country with a growing intolerance of LGBTQIA+ people, is an act of opposition and a way to find personal peace. The band’s sound varies from one record to the next. Earlier releases feature loose Ramones-style punk rock, while newer efforts are surfy or focus on an electro-dance sound.
Hunx And His Punx
Hunx is Seth Bogart, whose list of talents along with being a cool crooner include multimedia artist and hairdresser. Earlier in his music career, he was in the electroclash act Gravy Train. Now he’s got some Punx. Shannon Shaw of Shannon And The Clams and Erin Emslie are among the current members. Punk meets the girl group and doo-wop sounds of the ’50s and ’60s in this act’s way-too-cool-for-school earworms.
These desert rockers know how to party. A self-proclaimed “queercore comedy band,” the Pübes definitely inspire laughs. “8000 Miles For Bootie” takes the sting out of long-distance love and replaces it with chuckles. “Oops, I Caught The Gay” pulls you in with an anthemic chant and keeps you rocking while keeping a playful vibe through the entirety of the song.
Moscow’s punk-rock and performance art group have been tearing it up since 2011. Pussy Riot utilized their songs, guerrilla performances and videos to speak out against injustice and oppression, including being vocal about the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Their songs, performances and actions have gotten them plenty of attention—they’ve both garnered supporters and been arrested, with some members serving jail time.
Songs such as “Pressure” and “Who’s Got Time?” on this D.C. band’s 2018 record, Constant Image, blend the drive of post-punk with a punch of spirited power pop to keep you captivated for their entirety. Each ends at the point where you’re completely satisfied but wouldn’t cry if they ran another minute longer. Flasher know how to employ a subtle thread of tension in their music that gives it a nostalgic mood and a quiet air of chaos.
Between their name and referring to themselves as “Jurassic punx,” you’d think these musicians would have an age complex. It’s more like, here’s a group of veteran punks who’ve been in old-school bands such as Flipper and Fang just out to add their experience to Oakland’s queercore scene through some festively flippant straight-ahead punk ’n’ roll.
Absolutely Not are the musical equivalent of a dystopian movie. Or, if life just feels extra weird, pop them on your player of choice for the perfect soundtrack. The guitars are like jagged knives, shredding through the songs to create spacey, frenetic energy. While the music forges relentlessly ahead, singer/guitarist Donnie Moore’s vocals add more fuel to this rage machine, along with plenty of wicked witticisms that examine sociopolitical concerns.
Meet Me @ The Altar
Each person in this trio lives in a different East Coast state. Maybe having a little geographical distance between members adds extra fuel to the fire because when this band come together, the energy level is through the roof. Playing pop punk in the vein of groups such as Knuckle Puck, Paramore and blink-182, Meet Me @ The Altar are lively and tight with hooky riffs and vocals that are equal parts sugar and salt.
This Fort Collins, Colorado two-piece refers to themselves as “the loudest, gayest punk band in the world.” Plasma Canvas' songs do pack a gutsy punch. The combined energy and rawness feels sincere. You can easily picture the two members locked in a tiny practice space, oozing caffeinated sweat, riding on adrenaline and pouring their hearts into these punk tracks.
Original members Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein have been carrying the Sleater-Kinney torch since their riot grrrl days in the ’90s. After a break from 2007 to 2013, they came back in full force with drummer Janet Weiss to rock as hard as ever. Though Weiss left around the time their most recent effort, The Center Won’t Hold, dropped in the summer of 2019, Angie Boylan came on board, and the new lineup marches forward.
Queer post-punkers Shopping infuse a lot of ’80s underground sounds into their music. Pressing play gets you equal blends of styles, from stark art-punk to quirky rhythms guaranteed to make you dance to eccentric vocals ala the B-52’s. The band are outspoken, and their lyrics let you know their stance on concerns from the political to the personal, all while keeping you engulfed in and transfixed by their motion-inducing beats.